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Jail Program Wins Award

Posted: 06/20/2019

Author: Julie Anderson

Category: County Sheriff Press Release, Departments

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That could explain a lot. That could explain hurtful words, angry outbursts, alcohol and substance abuse. That could even explain difficulty in school, chronic health conditions and early death.

That is ACEs – Adverse Childhood Experiences and how those experiences lead to toxic stress which can lead to a brain wired for trouble.

Many people in jail have endured adverse childhood experiences. Their incarceration may be leading to similar adverse experiences for their children. It’s a cycle that needed to be broken. The Douglas County jail and caring staff are breaking it, bit by bit, each day with a program that began January 1, 2019.

Mother and fathers serving time in the jail can participate in an 8-week curriculum called Parenting with Resilience.  It begins with a one-hour documentary called Resilience, The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope, continues with general self-awareness skills and concludes with PRIDE parenting skills. PRIDE stands for praise, reflect, imitate, describe and enjoy.  

“I realize now it’s not what’s wrong with me, it’s what happened to me,” says program graduate Alexander. “Now I can show my kids the way by using healthy boundaries and focusing on the good they do.”

Connie Fields, Douglas County Early Childhood Initiative Coordinator partnered with Jail Administrator Jackie Notch and Sheriff Troy Wolbersen to launch this program. It recently won the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association “Dave Grant” award.  Critical partners also include: Assistant Jail Administrator Lee Johnson, Jail programmers Nicole Torgrimson, Randy Froemming and Heather Whittemore, licensed psychologist Melissa Winter and early educator Connie Good.

“This program is having a profound, positive impact in Douglas County,” said Jail Administrator Jackie Notch. “We appreciate all of the teamwork that goes into making this a success.”

 One in six children in Minnesota have a history of parental incarceration. In Douglas County, jail staff members were seeing third generation incarceration in some families.

Jail leadership realized the staff couldn’t begin to address adverse childhood events in children until they addressed them in adults. The goal is to have inmates identify their ACEs and how they affect their behaviors. That will help them make positive changes which will benefit their children.

There are 10 spots in each session. Surveys are given before and after the classes. Those surveys show the average participant’s knowledge base increased by 38 percent.  

Alexander, the program graduate, says his ACEs score is 9 out of 10. Even with that high score, he is now confident the future is brighter. “I can do better than my own parents and break the cycle. I can help my children identify feelings and manage emotions. I can also create a safe physical and emotional environment at home.”

You can’t ask for more than that.


Tuesday, June 25, 2019 by Jeanne Ennen
Great job Connie and team!!

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